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September 9, 2022

Hungary: Price cap on Russian gas will result in a complete cut-off in supplies

By Smruthi Nadig

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has warned that a proposed European price cap on Russian natural gas will result in Moscow’s abrupt shutdown of supply to Europe ahead of an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers.

Energy ministers of EU countries will soon meet to discuss strategies for avoiding a surge in energy prices caused by Russia’s suspension of most gas exports to Europe.

Last month, Gazprom began ramping up supplies to Hungary, supplementing previously agreed exports previously via the Turkstream pipeline. Russia meets the majority of Hungary’s oil and gas demands.

“We are not ready to allow anybody to make Hungarian people pay price for the war. It will be physically impossible [for us] to buy enough oil to operate our country and our economy,” said in an interview

Representatives of the Czech Republic, which currently guides discussions as the EU’s rotating president, have stated that they want to remove discussion of a cap on Russian gas prices from the meeting’s agenda.

In July, Szijjartomet with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, seeking an additional 700 million cubic metres of gas. This would come in addition to an existing long-term supply agreement.

Hungary, which has repeatedly challenged EU sanctions against Russia, receives more than 80% of its gas from Russia. It also serves as a transit country for a key oil pipeline carrying supplies to the EU.

Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually via Bulgaria and Serbia under a long-term arrangement with Russia, and 1bcm via an Austrian pipeline, in a deal signed last year, before the start of the war in neighbouring Ukraine. The country’s arrangement with Gazprom is for 15 years.

European countries have already banned more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports. EU energy ministers are set to discuss methods to bring down energy prices, which have risen as a result of Russia’s suspension of most gas exports to Europe in reaction to European sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary has strongly criticised EU sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, claiming that they have failed to weaken Moscow while risking ruin for the European economy.

“If price restrictions were to be imposed exclusively on Russian gas, that would evidently lead to an immediate cut-off in Russian gas supplies. It does not take a Nobel Prize to recognise that,” Szijarto said in a Facebook video.

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